What is Microsoft 365?
Microsoft 365 (M365) is a suite of products that are designed to help you communicate, collaborate and work productively, including:
- OneDrive for Business
- Exchange Online
- Planner / To Do
- SharePoint Online
This guidance covers the use of all M365 products but focuses particularly on how you should use Teams. Teams offers great potential for collaboration and productivity; however, it requires safe online practice because it is both a hub for users to interact in M365 and a space where other products can be accessed.
You can find a downloadable PDF version of this document here.
What is Microsoft 365 for?
Microsoft 365 products, including Teams, are provided for use in relation to University activity. For example, you can use Teams for discussions, collaboration and communication relating to academic study and research, and other student clubs, societies, enterprises, events and activities.
Staff at the University of Birmingham also use M365.
It is important to remember that M365 is not a social media platform intended for personal use.
M365 products are intended to complement other University systems. Please use the systems that you are directed to by your course leaders.
Purpose of this guidance document
This guidance document outlines the University’s expectations for how all students (including undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research students, and those on a leave of absence, External Resit Students, students with Thesis Awaited status, and Graduands) should use M365, to help ensure that the platform is a safe, inclusive and productive space for all members of the University community.
You have a responsibility to ensure that you are following this guidance and other University Regulations, Codes of Practice and Policies. As with any service provided by the University, failing to follow this guidance for M365 may result in action being
taken under University Regulations and Procedures. Content shared within Teams, including conversations, must be in accordance with University policies, Data Protection Law and, where relevant for some students, any relevant Data Sharing Agreements and contracts including any grant requirements which apply to you.
Glossary of terms used in this document
Two nominated individuals who will have the responsibility of managing the Team, monitoring use and upholding an inclusive and safe Team environment
Individuals who do not have a User Account provided by The University of Birmingham.
Includes all information, data, documents, text, video, emoji, audio, image and chat files which are created, stored, exchanged, published or circulated within M365/Teams
Information relating to natural living persons who can be identified or who are identifiable directly from the information in question or who can be indirectly identified from that information in combination with other information.
1. Maintaining an inclusive and safe community
You are required to follow these principles to ensure that you are keeping yourself and all members of the University community safe when using M365.
Each student contributing to a Team is responsible for any content that they add to a Team or conversation held via Teams.
Teams are created for use by designated groups. Team Owners – there are two for each Team - are responsible for creating an inclusive environment and monitoring use. Where Team Owners have concerns about the nature of content, they should discuss this with Wellbeing Officers in the first instance.
All Teams created under the University’s M365 tenancy are owned by the University, and therefore may be accessed and monitored by University staff members who are not visible members of your Microsoft Team. An example of this may be the monitoring of particular key terms as part of activities undertaken by the University to safeguard our student and staff environment and provide an inclusive place to study and work. The University reserves the right to remove Teams and content that it deems to be inappropriate, including those that may be a breach of University Regulations and / or civil or criminal law.
All content that has been posted by users (including deleted content) can be accessed and recovered by the University and may be used in Misconduct and Fitness to Practise procedures, or other University regulatory processes as appropriate.
NOTE: The scope of this guidance may be wider for students who are subject to Fitness to Practise requirements (including those registered on an intercalated programme) as they are also required to comply with the Code of Professional Conduct and Fitness to Practise relevant to their profession and/or programme of study.
2. Rules, Courtesy and Etiquette
- not form and avoid joining an online group that isolates or victimises members of the University community. If you become aware that a group you have joined has been set up to isolate or victimise someone, you should speak to your Wellbeing Officer
- avoid using language that would be deemed to be offensive to others
- when organising a meeting or event, inform your participants of your intention to record the event/meeting and, to meet legal requirements, you must also inform participants whether they can opt out, or if they have to opt in. Meeting attendees will be notified by Teams if a recording has started but will need to leave meeting manually if they do not wish to be recorded
- seek permission to share videos, photos or audio content belonging to others. You must also be careful not to breach copyright or intellectual property law in your use of M365
- be polite and treat everyone with respect. This is important, even in instances when opinions differ
- be clear and avoid using ambiguous language that may be open to interpretation
- consider whether you want to upload a photo of yourself so that others know who they are interacting with
- use others’ availabilities (‘available,’ ‘busy, ‘away,’ etc.) and their status (this will appear above the ‘Type a new message’ box) to help see whether they are free to chat
- not expect an immediate response. Students and staff at the University will have different working patterns and availabilities and they may not be able to read your message and answer straight away
- post to appropriate members – discussions in a Team are visible to all people who are members of that Team. You can tag all team members or specific people in a team to get their attention
- keep it relevant – make sure you clearly understand the purpose of your Team. Stay on topic and avoid sharing irrelevant content as this may frustrate other members
- be mindful of the number of posts/messages you send to others as excessive amounts could be deemed as "spamming" – which you should avoid
- be cautious when sharing your own personal data
You must not:
- create, store, exchange, publish or circulate content that is indecent, threatening or offensive. This includes any files that you upload to M365
- share your login credentials or any information that should not be shared in accordance with University regulations
- give out personal information that does not belong to you and do not ask others to share it. This includes information such as passwords and financial information
- record or share video or audio content if the other participants have not provided their consent
If you or someone else is being bullied or harassed online it is recommended that, where possible and appropriate, those involved should attempt to resolve the situation informally in the first instance. Your School / College Wellbeing Officers and/or University Harassment Advice Service can provide support and advice for students affected by Harassment.
If informal methods do not resolve the matter, or if the Harassment is particularly serious, a formal allegation of Harassment should be submitted, in line with the Harassment and Bullying Policy. The University takes reports of Harassment seriously and will handle reports of Harassment in line with the Policy.
3. Academic integrity and intellectual property
- Although collaboration is often encouraged, you should not normally share your work (including drafts) with other students.
- You should ensure that the sharing of images and videos does not breach image rights and copyright. Seek permission from anyone included in personal photographs prior to sharing them, and attribute references, images, text, audio and video appropriately.
- Recognise others' work - Follow copyright and intellectual property requirements by attributing references, images, text, audio and video appropriately.
- If you are unsure about your academic practice, you should refer to the following resources in the first instance:
o Plagiarism resources
- If you require further guidance on academic practice, you should speak to your Personal Academic Tutor or one of your supervisors.
4. Protecting data
This section contains information on how to store and protect information appropriately on M365.
Microsoft 365 is a cloud service and information stored in the University’s tenancy is kept in Microsoft’s Data Centres. This meets UK and EU data protection and security standards. M365 is compliant with the University’s Data Protection Policy and data is processed in line with the University Privacy Notices. All members of the University are responsible for complying with the University’s Data Protection Policy in the collection and sharing of the personal data of others (for example as part of Postgraduate Research).
You may want to store confidential, sensitive or personal information on M365 - for example, research data. Please ensure that:
- You have appropriate permission to store this information particularly if storing on Teams;
- Any contractual requirements for the storage of the data are met (including requirements for research grants), and;
- There is a clear timeframe for keeping the data and a plan in place to delete it at the end of this period.
If you would like to share information contained within a Team outside of a Team you are part of, make sure you have the appropriate permission and consider who you are sharing it with. This is especially important in the case of confidential, personal and sensitive information.
Don’t lose your data –Teams provides a file storage location for files posted within conversations and channels. If a Team is deleted by a Team Owner, then the Team Owner must ensure data is migrated out of the Team before deletion.
5. Collaborating with people external to the University
M365 products can be used to collaborate with people from outside the University. Teams created by students do not have this functionality as standard, however, if you need to collaborate outside the University, you can make a request for external users to be added via the IT Service Desk.
If you are in a Team with external users, make sure that the content of the discussion and any files are appropriate for them to access. External users will be able to see all chats, conversations and files shared within the Team channels they have access to, including historic chats and information.
You must not invite individuals external to the University who are under the age of 18 to join a Team.
Links to relevant policies and guidance
Please review the Student Conduct page and read the following Regulations and guidance:
- Regulation 8: Student Conduct: